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Mad Cow "indigenous" to North America

Mad cow has home on U.S. ranges
nternational experts say the disease is "indigenous" to North America, and it will take drastic measures to stop its spread
Mad Cow "indigenous" to North America

Mad cow has home on U.S. ranges
nternational experts say the disease is "indigenous" to North America, and it will take drastic measures to stop its spread

RIVERDALE, Md. -- Mad cow disease probably has been established in North America for more than a decade, and Americans should be prepared for the discovery of more domestic cases as it spreads through herds.

A panel of international experts released these findings Wednesday to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman, also urging the Department of Agriculture to toughen protections put into place following the Dec. 23 discovery of an infected Holstein in Washington state.

Those protections, while helpful, are not sufficient to keep mad cow disease from spreading further, or "amplifying," within the North American herd, the researchers concluded.

"We need more, much more," said Ulrich Kihm, a Swiss scientist who led the advisory panel. "If we don't accept and implement measures -- strong measures --then we have this amplification cycle going on and on."

The panel released its findings to a restive group of regulators, scientists and meat-industry representatives Wednesday in Riverdale. Significantly, it called bovine spongiform encephalitis, or BSE, "indigenous" in the United States and Canada and built its proposals around halting transmission of the disease:

The panel's assertion that BSE was indigenous to North American herds was its most controversial. Although the Washington cow was born in Canada, the report warned: "The significance of this BSE (mad cow) case cannot be dismissed by considering it 'an imported case.' "

"We believe that the infection in North America took place at least 10 years ago," Kihm said. "You need one cycle before you have a few animals positive, and you don't see them in the first cycle. You need a second or a third."

The findings were presented to a USDA subcommittee appointed by Veneman. Some members expressed frustration.

"It's still possible most, if not all, here came from somewhere else," said Robert Eckroade, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. "Indigenous means we're going to have it for years, and I'm not ready to support that."

Tobin Armstrong, a rancher from Texas, said the panel's proposals would impose enormous costs on the cattle industry when the threat to human health appeared to be minimal.

The cost of testing for Mad Cow is supposed to be around a nickel per pound of beef, and this price tag seems pretty paltry when compared to the over all cost of beef. According to a story on Dissident Voice....

There's one more factor to consider when calculating the cost of a hamburger and that's the impact of corporate welfare of the planet. U.S. farmers receive $22 billion in direct federal payments and subsidy aid and the total value of subsidized irrigation water used by animal feed growers in the U.S. annually is $1 billion.

"In the U. S. we can buy a hamburger for 79 cents," explains cattle-rancher-turned-vegan, Howard Lyman ( http://www.madcowboy.com). "If the American taxpayer was not involved in subsidizing the beef industry, the same hamburger meat would cost over $12. Meat in America today would cost $48 a pound if it were not for the American taxpayers subsidizing the grain, the irrigation water, the electricity, the grazing on public lands. How many people-even in America-would go and spend that amount of money on meat if it wasn't subsidized? We can't afford roads, or schools, or health care, and yet we are paying $11.21 for every $12 of something that is helping kill one out of every two Americans today."

The story then goes on to list other costs associated with beef, apart from the direct subsidies...

Assessing the environmental cost of the meat- and dairy-based diet is a monumental and depressing task. For starters, consider Earthsave's ( http://www.earthsave.org/) calculations on the "real" price of a hamburger.

* It takes 12 pounds of grain to produce one pound of hamburger. This same 12 pounds of grain could make 8 loaves of bread or 24 plates of spaghetti.

* If the beef for your burger came from the rainforest, roughly 660 pounds of living matter is destroyed. This includes between 20 and 30 different plant species, over 100 insect species, and dozens of reptiles, birds, and mammals.

* One pound of hamburger requires 2,500 gallons of water, which could instead have been used to grow more than 50 pounds of fruits and vegetables. Fifty percent of all water consumed in the U.S. is used to grow feed and provide drinking water for cattle and other livestock.

* On a planet where a child starves to death every two seconds, fourteen times as many people could be fed by using the same land currently reserved for livestock grazing.

That Big Mac does more than just drain resources, it contributes to global warming. Two hundred gallons of fossil fuels are burned to produce the beef currently by the average U.S. family of four while 500 pounds of carbon dioxide are released in the atmosphere for every quarter pound of rainforest beef.

The SAD also pollutes the planet at an alarming rate. A 1997 Senate report declared that every year, U.S. livestock produce 10,000 pounds of solid manure for every U.S. citizen. "In central California," activist Pamela Rice ( http://www.vivavegie.org) explains, "sixteen hundred dairies produce the feces and urine of a city of 21 million people." This is a problem from coast to coast as "surplus cow sludge" is seriously polluting waterways at the rate of 230,000 pounds per second. Thanks to run-off from animal agriculture, the EPA has found 700 different pollutants in U.S. drinking water. Since 1945, overall pesticide use has increased by 3,300 percent with 1.5 billion pounds of pesticides applied to American farmlands annually.

Despite the drastic increase in pesticide use, the USDA has found that prior to the 1950s, the overall annual crop loss due to "pest damage" was 7 percent. Today, it's 13 percent. The bug spray may not be killing bugs but it certainly has an impact on the human population. Studies have shown that 99 percent of non-vegetarian mothers in the U.S. had significant levels of DDT in their breast milk. (For vegetarian mothers, not incidentally, the number was 8 percent.)

To the polluted air, water, land, and bodies, add in the devastation of topsoil and ensuing desertification and species destruction:

* Pounds of topsoil lost in the production of one pound of feedlot steak: 35

* Time required for nature to form one inch of topsoil: 200 to 1000 years

* 29% of Earth's landmass is suffering from desertification

* Each year, 125,000 square miles of rainforest is permanently destroyed-that's a football field every second-often to make room for grazing cattle. In Central America, cattle ranching is the top reason for rainforest destruction and 90% of new cattle ranches last less than 8 year because their soil base is depleted from grazing.

* Current rate of species extinction due to tropical rainforest destruction: 1000 per year

Another story I found interesting appeared on the Counterpunch site,

A Worker from the Mad Cow Meat Plant Speaks Out
They Are Lying About Your Food

The USDA had told the world that the mad cow had been slaughtered here, but it was not in the food chain. A blatant lie.

It was one of many. I walked out with the news crew at lunch time because I can't stand a government cover-up. They asked me "was the cow in the food chain?" I told them of course it was, it's meat. Where else would it be? They asked me if the cow was a downer. I told them no, it was just an old cow.

The USDA had us taking brain stem samples from downers and back door cripples only. Since we only had a few walkers on this trailer full of downers, we just killed her along with them. We took a brain sample from her head because the USDA gives up $10 per sample.

If we would have unloaded her in the pens, we would have never caught the BSE. How many other walkers have BSE? We will never know. The USDA only tested the downers and cripples and only at our plant. We had only been taking brain samples for about a month when we found this one.

When the USDA said no more downers would be slaughtered, they essentially said no more BSE testing would be done. Vern's and every other slaughterhouse kept right on killing and selling Holstein meat from the same area as the mad cow with no BSE testing whatsoever. This is true and easily verifiable.